Champaign, IL. Krannet Art Museum: Encounters: The Arts of Africa

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Curator: Allyson Purpura


In October 2012, Krannert Art Museum opened Encounters: The Arts of Africa, a renovated gallery dedicated to KAM’s African Art collection.

The completely redesigned space invites visitors to see exhibited objects not only as visually compelling works of art in their own right, but also as objects of encounter that can “tell” stories about the broader social contexts and often fraught global histories through which they have journeyed.

The gallery is organized thematically and many displays include touch screens that contain video clips of artist interviews, masquerades, and descriptive vignettes. These bring the “telling” of African stories into the museum experience and draw out resonances among the objects on view.

Encounters features artworks predominantly from west and central Africa, most of which were generously donated to the museum by the Richard J. Faletti family and Cecilia and Irwin Smiley.

Displayed in conjunction with these pieces are works by several African and African American studio-based artists that blur the boundaries between “traditional” and “contemporary” art practices. Also featured are outstanding artworks lent by museums and private collectors that complement the visual and narrative power of the objects with which they have been partnered.

We hope this gallery will encourage encounters of all kinds, including those that challenge assumptions and inspire new lines of inquiry about the global reach and contemporary relevance of African creativity.

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